Friday 11 September 2015

‘I cast you out': Exorcism expert elucidates demonic possession

by: Matthew Waller

(Referenced from -- Accessed 11 September 2015)

SAN ANGELO, Texas - Father Dennis D. McManus was cautious when workers at the psychiatric ward asked for his help.

He saw a young girl, locked up alone in the psychological ward, he told the audience gathered at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart Gym.

"They said there was nothing wrong with her psychologically," said McManus, an assistant to the archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York who has been assigned to the ministry of exorcism.

McManus came at the invitation of the Diocese of San Angelo to speak on exorcism, and a hushed audience of about 700 listened attentively.

The ward's staff said the girl had become extremely violent, he said.

As he examined her case, he realized she exhibited the four top signs of demon possession.

She could speak other languages; although was raised Greek, she knew Arabic fluently.

She had unnatural human strength; at about 125 pounds, she could hurl furniture across the room.

She had knowledge of secret things; she could tell if a doctor was having an affair or dealing prescription drugs illegally.

She had a revulsion to sacred images.

McManus didn't bring in the solemn rites, the prayers and sessions associated with Hollywood pea-soup possessions.

First, he spoke with the girl.

She told him about how her father beat her and her boyfriend while a cold mother did nothing. She said one night she cried in the bathtub and rejected her family and God, and cried for help from anything. She waited about half an hour until she felt a presence in the room that she embraced.

The presence had helped her get many men and much money, she said.

"Do nothing to disrupt this," the girl told McManus.

McManus recommended special pastoral care in addition to treatments from doctors and psychiatrists.

At his house later, he woke up at 3 a.m. and witnessed a heavy, religious icon in his room leaping from the wall and falling to the floor.

"Maybe it wanted a better view," he told those gathered. More likely, he said, it was demonic harassment from a demon angry that the priest was trying to end what had been, for the demon, a secure possession.

McManus said there are not any resources he is aware of that give particulars and verifiable testimonials of demon possessions.

San Angelo Diocese Bishop Michael Pfeifer said he has witnessed exorcisms but cannot give any information about them because of confidentiality.

Possessions are essentially relationships that one chooses to enter, McManus said. They require consent and are not caught like a cold, he added.

Even just trying to live a decent life is enough to make the devil look elsewhere for a candidate for possession, he said.

"The devil is not interested in you" if you are trying to be person living for and searching after what is good, McManus said. "He wants people to be in a relationship with him."

McManus warned of fascinations with the occult that can hook someone with special, supernatural knowledge — Ouija boards included.

He also said groups may slowly and subtly drag people into covens, which McManus called groups of usually 12 affluent and powerful people dedicated to a single demon in exchange for power and influence. He told of one priest in California who kept up with covens and said they were becoming more numerous than all of the missions, parishes and some other Catholic ministries combined.

The same is true of the city where he is based out of, McManus said.

"People say, 'That's the movies.' No, that's New York," McManus said.

Pfeifer said movies, however, are one reason his diocese had chosen to invite McManus.

He said he has seen more demonic activity in recent years, that there are diabolic cults throughout West Texas and that the issue of demonic possession has been in the mainstream media more often, as he recently saw in "The Rite."

Pfeifer noted that among the regular powers that Jesus Christ gave to his disciples was the power to cast out demons.

Exorcisms, in the sense of purging people of evil, are the first step in any Christian's spiritual life.

"You've gone through an exorcism when you were baptized," Pfeifer said.

Horacio Casillas, a student at Angelo State University, had also seen "The Rite" and said it was one of the reasons he came.

Attendees left encouraged and inspired.

"There is always hope, even for the worst cases, with the power of the Holy Spirit," Amelia Valdez said.

Another attendee was struck by McManus' encouragement of having strong, active families to keep youth away from the fascinations of the occult.

"The first thing is to help our children," William Tarn said. He said he wanted to return regular prayer to schools.

McManus also addressed hauntings, telling the story of the ghost of a priest who communicated through a knocking noise. McManus said the priest used knocks to mean "yes" or "no" until McManus and others found money in a drawer. The money had been given to the deceased priest for masses he hadn't gotten around to officiating before he died. After the masses were performed, the knocking stopped, McManus said.

McManus also was set to give a seminar on exorcism for Catholic Diocese of San Angelo priests only.

Pfeifer said he may assign a few priests to the ministry of exorcism. Only a bishop can make that assignment, Pfeifer said.

"It was a tremendous teaching experience for our priests," Pfeifer said. "Our priests were thrilled with the information he received, about how to deal with a creature from another world."

Pfeifer said priests from around the diocese came and were taught the specifics of exorcisms.

Demon possessions are very rare, although they do happen, Pfeifer said. He said he couldn't give the number of exorcisms that have happened in his diocese because of confidentiality.

"People think Satan isn't real," said JoAnn Turner, a lecture attendee. "But he is."